On Tuesday 2nd October, St Mary’s were pleased to welcome renowned political satirist and impressionist, Rory Bremner, and Dr Karin von Hippel, Director-General of The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Mr Bremner took on a more serious role for the evening’s event, interviewing Dr von Hippel about her experience of working inside political institutions and think tanks.
Dr Karin von Hippel told the audience about her varied career, having first worked with the UN on a number of conflict zones including Somalia and Kosovo. She also discussed her role in working for the US Government as well as her current job as Director General of RUSI. The latter is the world’s oldest defence and security think tank and she is the first woman and non-British national to lead RUSI in its nearly 200 year history, and only the second civilian to do so.
The UVI (Year 13) Politics students had previously come up with a number of questions which Dr von Hippel was able to answer, drawing on her experiences. Previously, she served in the US Department of State as a Senior Adviser in the Bureau of Counter-terrorism, then as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and finally, as Chief of Staff to General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter-ISIL. Prior to this, Dr von Hippel co-directed the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC and was a senior research fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London.
Questions ranged from ‘what do you think the likelihood is that President Trump will be re-elected for a second term?’ to ‘RUSI, an organisation you work for, can be said to embrace free thinking and discussion. In your opinion can free thinking and free discussion be reasonably used as an excuse for hateful comments? If not, where should limits be placed and why?’
It was a fantastic evening which covered a huge variety of political concepts and events. We are so very grateful to Mr Bremner and Dr von Hippel for coming to talk to us.
Mrs Samantha Handy - Head of History and Politics